Tag Archives: wildlife conservation

Madagascar wildlife poster series

My new wildlife conservation awareness poster series is out featuring the amazing wildlife of Madagascar, a unique biodiversity hotspot with a range of endemic species severely endangered by the deforestation of the island.

wildlife-of-Madagascar

wildlife-of-Madagascar

This series was created in collaboration with Chances for Nature, a Göttingen (Germany) based non-profit organization working for the conservation of natural habitats and biodiversity. They have several ongoing projects around the world (you can read about them in detail on the CFN webpage); one of the locations is Madagascar. Among other things, they established an environmental education camp in the Kirindy Reserve in the western part of the island where they bring local children to the forest to observe the animals as closely as researchers do – many of the species featured on the posters occur in this relatively small area.

For now, the new series is available in my RedBubble store on posters, art prints, spiral notebooks and stickers. Similarly to the two original series I plan to create design versions more suitable for apparel and to write a blogpost about each of the species later.

The Western black rhino – doomed to extinction

extinct-western-black-rhinoceros-Diceros-bicornis-longipes

extinct-western-black-rhinoceros-Diceros-bicornis-longipes

Western black rhino – extinct subspecies of the black rhinoceros

The modern age history of rhinoceroses has been like a rollercoaster, and odds are that’s not going to change in the near future. During the 19-20th centuries all five extant rhino species were hunted to the brink of extinction: the black rhino population reached a record low of 2400 in 1995, the four other species all had at some point of their story only a few dozen living specimens. Two of them – the Javan and the Sumatran rhino – have each only one population today with estimated 50-80 individuals; both species are critically endangered. Thanks to conservation efforts, by the end of the 20th century the white rhino and the greater one-horned rhino were able to recover to populations of a few thousand – only to face the danger of extirpation again because of the current surge in poaching to satisfy the increasing demand for rhino horns.

indian-greater-one-horned-rhino-hunting-engraving

indian-greater-one-horned-rhino-hunting-engraving

All five rhino species have been hunted historically for their horns – Indian greater one-horned rhino hunting

Rhino horn has been highly prized and sought after by several cultures for many reasons for over a thousand years, and Asia has been considered the leading consumer for decades, but this recent surge of demand is clearly connected to one country: Vietnam. In the first decade of the 21th century wealthy classes of Vietnam started to regard buying, consuming and gifting rhino horn as a status symbol. This is supported by an underlying belief in health benefits: rhino horn has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years – even nowadays, neglecting all scientific evidence of their complete ineffectiveness – but the notion that it is the cure for everything from hangover to cancer is recent, and the latter one is spread by some well-respected Vietnamese doctors.

And as if the dire situation in Vietnam wasn’t enough, in November last year (2018) China announced that they will allow the regulated trade of rhino horn, tiger bones and animal parts of other endangered species used in traditional Chinese medicine again. Currently the implementation of lifting the ban that has been standing since 1993 is postponed because of the international outcry aroused by the announcement – maybe the time should be spent on convincing people willing to give thousands of dollars for a few ounces of rhino horn to choose the much more economical equivalent and chew on their fingernails instead…

Sadly, it is quite certain that four subspecies will not have a future at all: the Indian Javan rhino is thought to be gone extinct before 1925, and after decades of being hunted by poachers three more subspecies eventually went extinct in the first years of the 21th century. Sudan, the last male Northern white rhino, had to be euthanized in March 2018 leaving only 2 females of his subspecies alive in the world; the last known individual of another Javan rhinoceros subspecies (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was shot and killed in April 2010 in Vietnam – this subspecies was already thought to be extinct for a while when a tiny population was rediscovered in 1988; and the first victim of the century was the Western black rhino, wiped out completely sometimes in the first decade.

poaching-Cameroon-Western-black-rhino-extinct-subspecies

poaching-Cameroon-Western-black-rhino-extinct-subspecies

The last Western black rhinos resided in Cameroon
©Copyright Save The Rhino

Date of extinction: The date and the circumstances of the death of the last Western black rhino are unknown – even the time of the last legit sighting is hard to tell –, but there’s no doubt it was killed by poachers for its horn. A WWF survey in 2001 found five live specimens in Cameroon and reported the possibility of three more unconfirmed individuals. In 2004, a nongovernmental organization (Symbiose) reported that they found evidence of over 30 western black rhinos still living in Cameroon – that quickly turned out to be a lie: the trackers faked rhino footprints to keep their jobs. In 2006, parallel surveys of the WWF, the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, and a renewed 6 month long field survey of Symbiose conducted on the species’ common roaming ground in Cameroon’s Northern Province failed to find any traces of living specimens. After the usual 5 years waiting period the IUCN eventually changed the status of the Western black rhino from critically endangered to extinct in 2011.

Range: The Western black rhino once used to roam large areas of central and western Africa from south-eastern Niger to South Sudan. The last population lived in Cameroon.

Habitat: Western black rhinos used to inhabit the savanna areas of sub-Saharan Africa; they preferred areas with thick scrub and bushland, gallery woodlands and marshes over the vast grassland.

critically-endangered-black-rhino-portrait-savanna

critically-endangered-black-rhino-portrait-savanna

Black rhinos roam the vast savannas of sub-Saharan Africa
©Copyright Gerry Zambonini / CC BY-SA 2.0

Description: The Western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) was one of the four subspecies – according to the taxonomical scheme adopted by the IUCN – of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis). With an average of 140-180 cm height at the shoulder, 3-3.75 m body length and 800-1.400 kg weight it was considerably smaller than the other African rhino, the white rhinoceros. The names of both species are misleading as the white rhino is actually grey and the black rhino’s skin varies from brown to grey – they are not truly distinguishable by color.
African rhinos share a common ancestor and are generally quite similar in their appearances – thick skin, massive body with a broad chest, short neck, large head with two horns on the snout, and ears with a relatively wide rotation angle – but besides their size there are minor but very important differences, developed as adaptations to their differing diet and feeding habits. White rhinos are grazers: they eat grass, preferring the shortest grains of the open savanna grasslands; they have a distinctive flat broad mouth, a ‘square’ lip. Black rhinos adapted to browsing: they eat foliage and all leafy parts, branches, shoots and fruits of bushes and smaller trees; they’ve developed a strong, prehensile ‘hooked’ upper lip to grasp the leaves and twigs. The black rhino’s head is also smaller and held higher while white rhinos have a prominent muscular hump to support their larger head.

black-rhino-browsing-prehensile-hooked-lip

black-rhino-browsing-prehensile-hooked-lip

white-rhino-grazing-square-lip

white-rhino-grazing-square-lip


The clippers and the lawn-mower: black rhinos have prehensile lips adapted to browsing on leafy plants, white rhinos have square lips adapted to grazing on grass
©Copyright Bernard Dupont / CC BY-SA 2.0  and Martha de Jong-Lantink / CC BY 2.0

Besides their range, Western black rhinos had some less conspicuous features to distinguish them from the other three black rhino subspecies: they had a square based horn, some distinctive chewing apparatus characteristics, and their scientific name – longipes – refers to their longer distal limb segment.

All black rhinos usually spend their time browsing for food in the morning and evening hours and rest during the hot midday period, preferably wallowing in a mud pool to cool down and as a protection against parasites. They regularly visit water holes using the same trails that elephants use – they can live up to 5 days without drinking in drought periods.

Adult black rhinos generally live in solitary, except the mother-calf relation and while mating; young adults frequently form loose associations. Thanks to their deadly horn, thick skin and imposing size rhinos don’t really have any natural predators, except some rare cases of lion or crocodile attack. Black rhinos also have a reputation of being very aggressive, attacking at everything perceived as a threat – even at each other, often causing serious injuries resulting in death. Recent research shows that – in contrary to widespread belief – rhino’s eyesight isn’t particularly poor; although they rely more on their keen ears and excellent sense of smell.

Black rhinos have no mating season. Females have a single calf after a 15 month gestation period; the youngsters stay with their mother for about 2-3 years. Life expectancy in natural conditions is 35-50 years.

rhino-baby-eastern-black-critically-endangered

rhino-baby-eastern-black-critically-endangered


Eastern black rhino baby, a critically endangered black rhino subspecies
©Copyright Tambako the Jaguar / CC BY-ND 2.0 

Cause of extinction: At the beginning of the 20th century around one million black rhinoceroses roamed the savannas of Africa; for most of the century, the population of the Western black rhino was the largest among the subspecies. All black rhino subspecies were heavily hunted in the first decades of the 1900s by ‘sportsmen’ and trophy collectors; with the increasing industrial agriculture farmers and ranchers regarded them as crop pests and decimated their numbers.

Rhino horn has been sought after as a valuable material for special, traditional carved items in the Middle East and Asia; it is still frequently used to prepare the handle of a ceremonial knife called janbiya in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. In the early 1950s, Mao Zedong started to promote so called ‘traditional Chinese medicine’ to counter Western influences: as rhino horn was – absolutely falsely – believed to be able to ‘cure’ several ailments, poaching rapidly increased, and with the dwindling population of rhinos all over Africa and Asia the market value of 1 kg horn reached 50 000 USD.  Between 1960 and 1995 98 percent of all black rhino populations were wiped out.

By the 1980s there were only two countries left in Africa with Western black rhinos: Cameroon had around 110 and Chad around 25 individuals living in their territory, with no known specimens in any zoos. The Chad population was eliminated within the next decade; and by the end of the century Cameroon had only 10 Western black rhinos, partly living in isolation without any hope to find each other and start breeding.

The WWF was the only organization coming up with a preservation plan to save the Western black rhino (1999), but unfortunately in lack of local conservation capacity and government commitment the program has never had a chance to be carried out, and the Western black rhinoceros was wiped out from the planet.

save-the-rhino-horn-poaching

save-the-rhino-horn-poaching

With the recent surge in poaching all rhino species are in danger
©Copyright Dolf Botha / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

 

The Western black rhino poster at the top of this post is available in my store on Redbubble, with design variations more suitable for apparel and other products. My whole profit goes to the Sea Shepherd to support their fight to protect our oceans and marine wildlife. 

The Pinta Island tortoise – architect of Galápagos

pinta-island-giant-tortoise-Chelonoidis-abingdonii-extinct-Lonesome-George

pinta-island-giant-tortoise-Chelonoidis-abingdonii-extinct-Lonesome-George

The Pinta Island tortoise is one of the giant Galápagos tortoise species

The Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii) belongs to the Galápagos tortoises: the species complex of Chelonoidis nigra comprises one of the two still extant giant tortoise populations on the planet – the other one being the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea), native to a remote atoll of the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.

The common ancestors of the Galápagos tortoises arrived to the volcanic archipelago from mainland South America 2-3 million years ago, drifting 600 miles to the west with the Humboldt Currents. They colonized the oldest, easternmost islands of San Cristóbal and Espanola; then later they dispersed throughout the younger, westerly located islands of the archipelago – the process was probably parallel with and highly influenced by the continuing volcanic events and formation of the islands. They eventually inhabited 9 islands and developed into 14 variations – 11 islands and 16 variations, if we count the 2 disputed species of Rábida and Santa Fe Islands – that differ not only genetically but also in appearance and behavior.

critically-endangered-Galápagos-giant-tortoises

critically-endangered-Galápagos-giant-tortoises

Most of the extant Galápagos tortoise populations are endangered

Due to massive exploitation mainly for their meat and oil by whalers and buccaneers in several waves from the 16th century, the numbers of tortoises declined from over 250 000 to around 3000 in the mid 1900s, when conservation programs were started to preserve and restore the rapidly demising unique ecosystem and wildlife of the archipelago.

The taxonomic status of the different Galápagos tortoise races hasn’t been fully resolved yet and the conservation status of the populations keeps also changing as continued research of the remaining wild and captive populations, DNA analysis and other modern scientific methods have revealed new information and surprising events in the last decades. Just in February this year (2019), a lonely female tortoise was discovered on Fernandina Island – a population (Chelonoidis phantasticus) that was originally known from a single specimen and thought to have gone extinct a century ago.
As of today, most of the 12 extant species (with at least one live purebred specimen) are assessed critically endangered or endangered, the 2 disputed species are surely extinct, and there are chances that two species – the Pinta and the Floreana (Chelonoidis nigra) populations – considered currently extinct may have unlocated live specimens or could be revived by interbreeding programs of hybrid specimens aimed to restore the approximate genetic constitution of these species.

Date of extinction: The Pinta Island tortoise was assumed to be extinct in the mid 20th century until 1 December 1971, when a lone male was found on the island. He was named Lonesome George and became a symbol for conservation efforts not only for the Galápagos tortoises but for all endangered species around the world. As despite all efforts no other individuals of his species were discovered either in the wild or in captive populations of the world’s zoos, with Lonesome George’s death on 24 June 2012 the species was thought to be extinct forever.

Lonesome-George-last-giant-pinta-tortoise

Lonesome-George-last-giant-pinta-tortoise

Lonesome George, the last known Pinta Island tortoise
©Copyright 3rdfloorCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

However, there’s still some hope for bringing back the Pinta Island tortoise from extinction once again. In 2008, an expedition of researchers reported that they found 17 young first-generation Pinta hybrids in the Volcano Wolf (Chelonoidis becki) tortoise population on Isabela Island. As Galápagos tortoises can have a lifespan of 100 years in the wild, the pure Pinta parent of these hybrid specimens could still be alive somewhere on Isabela Island.

Range: As its name suggests, the Pinta Island tortoise originally used to be endemic exclusively to Pinta Island (also known as Abingdoni Island), the northernmost major island of the Galápagos archipelago.
The most probable explanation for the presence of the Pinta hybrids on Isabela is that whalers and pirates regularly used to drop large numbers of tortoises – collected from other islands of the archipelago – in Banks Bay, near Isabela Island to lighten the burden of their ship. Apparently, many of these tortoises managed to get to the shore and survived; producing purebred specimens, and also hybrids by mating with the local Volcano Wolf population. This theory is supported by the fact that researchers have also found Floreana Island hybrids – the species was declared extinct in 1846 – in the same population.

Habitat: Pinta Island tortoises migrated seasonally up and down the volcano between two characteristic habitat zones of the island in response to changes in the availability and quality of the vegetation. In the dry season, they inhabited the meadows of the native Scalesia tree forest of the humid zone of higher elevations limited only to a small area of the island. In the wet season, they migrated to the warmer arid lowland zone that is primarily characterized by cacti, scattered deciduous trees, shrubs, herbs and xerophytic species; but turns into a grassy plain as the rain arrives. As tortoises used the same routes for many generations, the paths they’ve trodden into the undergrowth remained clearly recognizable even several decades after the last tortoises were seen on the island. This seasonal migration up and down the volcano is typical also to other Galápagos tortoise populations living on islands that are high enough to have a humid zone.

arid-zone-opuntia-forest-Galápagos-Santa-Cruz-Island

arid-zone-opuntia-forest-Galápagos-Santa-Cruz-Island

humid-highland-zone-Scalesia-forest-Galápagos-Santa-Cruz-Island

humid-highland-zone-Scalesia-forest-Galápagos-Santa-Cruz-Island

Opuntia forest in the lowland arid zone and meadow of the native Scalesia forest of the humid highland zone on Santa Cruz Island
©Copyright Dallas KrentzelCC BY 2.0  and Andy KraemerCC BY-NC 2.0 

The indigenous flora and fauna of most islands of the archipelago has suffered major losses and has undergone degradation during the centuries because of the invasive species introduced by humans. On Pinta, after releasing goats on the island in 1959, the native vegetation went through a long period of degradation as a consequence of the intense grazing pressure caused by the rapidly increasing feral goat population. During the 1970s, a complex conservation program was started to restore the original ecosystem of the island. The first step – the complete eradication of the feral goats – was achieved in 1999, resulting in Pinta being one of the islands with almost no exotic species. Fortunately the vegetation has been recovering rapidly since – without any loss in Pinta’s endemic plant species – but some indicators show that the biological diversity and the healthy structure of the habitat can’t be completely restored without the presence of the giant turtles.

Research shows that Galápagos tortoises are keystone species of their ecosystem, as they have a major impact on the structure and composition of the vegetation. They maintain open areas within forests and dense vegetation by grazing and by simply moving through their environment as minor bulldozers, thus – by thinning the understory vegetation and letting more sunlight in – they provide suitable habitat for many endemic plant species. They also play an important role in the dispersal and germination of seeds: they eat large amounts of plant matter that they deposit during their long distance migrations.

In 2010, 39 sterilized hybrid tortoises were released to Pinta to help to restore the ecosystem to its original condition before human’s arrival. Hopefully someday the conservation efforts to revive the Pinta Island tortoises will be successful and there will be a breeding population on the island again.

Description: Galápagos tortoises are the largest living terrestrial turtles, though their size varies across the islands/races significantly. Male individuals of the larger bodied species can reach up to 1.85 meter length and weigh over 400 kg, but the smallest one – native to Pinzón Island (Chelonoidis duncanensis) – measures only around 75 kg and 60 cm. Regarding its size, the Pinta Island tortoise was probably closer to the smaller end of the scale: Lonesome George weighed around 85-90 kg.

domed-shell-giant-Galápagos-tortoise-carapace-form

domed-shell-giant-Galápagos-tortoise-carapace-form

Galápagos tortoise with domed shell, the ancient carapace form characteristic to species from more humid islands
©Copyright Aki SasakiCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

The carapace morphology of the Galapagos tortoises is quite diverse, the species can be distinguished based on the shape and details of their shell. There are two main varieties: the domed shell – probably the original form of their ancestor – is characteristic for populations inhabiting larger islands with humid highlands where abundant vegetation is available easily near the ground all year; the saddleback form with proportionally longer necks and limbs is common in smaller islands where the arid zone is the main habitat, providing more limited resource of food in the dry season. The raised front opening of the carapace with the longer neck is thought to be an evolutionary response that enables the tortoise to extend its head up higher to reach the leaves and shoots of trees and cactus pads. Domed tortoises tend to be also larger in size than saddle-backed species. The Pinta Island population belonged to the saddle-backed variations: as Pinta is not high and large enough – maximum altitude is 777 meters, area 60 km2 – to have a fully developed, rich cloud forest of Scalesia; the island’s humid zone is rather limited in area and native tortoises had to adapt mainly to the limitations of the available vegetation in the arid zone.

saddleback-shell-giant-tortoise-Galápagos-carapace-form

saddleback-shell-giant-tortoise-Galápagos-carapace-form

Galápagos tortoise with saddleback shell, characteristic to populations from more arid islands like Pinta Island
©Copyright Andy KraemerCC BY-NC 2.0 

Galápagos tortoises are herbivores; feeding huge amounts of grasses, leaves, cactus pads and every kind of fruits available. They have a very slow metabolism and are able to store significant amount of moisture and fat in their body and thus endure longer periods without water or food. Being cold-blooded animals, they adapt their daily routine to the ambient temperature of their environment. They bask 1-2 hours in the heat of the sun before they start their foraging tour; and in the hot season they have a ‘midday nap’ resting in the shade or half-submerged in muddy wallows trying to keep cool.

Galápagos-tortoises-resting-cooling-muddy-pool

Galápagos-tortoises-resting-cooling-muddy-pool

Galápagos tortoises resting and cooling in a muddy pool

Galápagos tortoises mate primarily during the hot season – the process is quite cumbersome because of the huge, heavy shells – then females migrate to dry, sandy nesting areas to lay their eggs. The female tortoise prepares a nest by arduously digging a hole with her hind feet and seals the nest with a muddy plug above the hard-shelled, billiard ball sized eggs. For saddle-backed tortoises the average clutch size is 2-7 eggs, hatching after a four to eight months incubation period. Hatchlings measure only about 50 g and 6 cm; it can take several weeks for them to dig their way to the surface where they face severe hazards of the unfriendly environment. However, once they manage to survive the first 10-15 years, they grow big enough to have no natural predators and can easily live over 100 years.

At least that’s how it was before human’s arrival…since then, introduced feral rats, cats, dogs and pigs have been a constant threat to the eggs and young tortoises. On Pinzón Island, most of the hatchlings had been killed by rats for centuries until only about 200 old adults remained. In 2012, the invasive rodent population was eradicated and 2 years later the first newly hatched tortoises were reported from the island…

Cause of extinction: Ironically, the major cause of the demise of the Galápagos giant tortoises was their amazing adaptation that once helped their ancestor to reach the archipelago on the currents and colonize the islands – the ability to survive without water of food for up to a year. From the discovery of the archipelago in the 16th century, whalers, fur hunters and pirates frequently used it as a base for restocking; taking hundreds of tortoises on board as living meet and water supplies for their long journeys. Exploitation increased in several waves during the centuries; in addition, the original ecosystem of the archipelago also had to face the usual threats islands experience with human invasion: introduction of alien predators (rats, cats, dogs, pigs), grazing competition (goats, cattle), and the degradation and loss of habitat caused by the growing agricultural activity.

endangered-Galápagos-giant-tortoise-migrating

endangered-Galápagos-giant-tortoise-migrating

Hopefully the still extant Galápagos tortoise populations will HAVE a future…

 

The Pinta Island tortoise poster at the top of this post is available in my store on Redbubble, with design variations more suitable for apparel and other products. My whole profit goes to the Sea Shepherd to support their fight to protect our oceans and marine wildlife. 

 

12 images for environmental awareness

Nature, wildlife, animals, and environmental awareness were a natural part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I was growing up reading Gerald Durrell’s books; with my family going every weekend on long hikes in the surrounding woods and mountains; and taking home every kinds of stray, wounded or abandoned animals from fallen, injured nestlings to baby bunnies thrown out after Easter (I have to admit though that our parents weren’t always completely enthusiastic about this habit…).
Through this connection with nature and animals, being aware of the impacts our everyday life and human activity in general has on our environment became also a part of our consciousness: my sister and I learned at a very young age about issues like the diminishing rainforests and the increasing pollution of our oceans, and about how to do our best to lessen or avoid the harm we cause to our planet.

critically endangered animals

critically endangered animals

And I remember that even as a kid I was constantly stunned – and enraged – by how little the vast majority of our peers, their parents and our teachers knew and cared about these things. I remember a particular conversation I had as a teenager trying to explain the importance of preserving the Amazon forest to my friends and I remember how they dismissed my reasoning labeled as naive, unimportant and exaggerated.

extinct animals last seen in the 20th century

extinct animals last seen in the 20th century

More than 20 years later, as humankind almost succeeded to literally smother a whole planet into its waste, with desperate warnings about global warming and plastic pollution screamed at us from the media, and internet petitions circling on Facebook, one would think this behavior has generally changed.

Well, it hasn’t. Although there has been some advancement regarding environmental awareness and there are more and more people who do everything and beyond to save and protect what is still left of the planet, most people I know aren’t even willing to collect their waste selectively.

animals endangered by human activity industrial overfishing deforestation agriculture dams

animals endangered by human activity industrial overfishing deforestation agriculture dams

I don’t get this attitude, I never will. I could go on for pages about the reasons, but it doesn’t lead anywhere. I don’t know if being appreciative of the beauty and diversity of our planet and its wildlife or feeling responsible for the harm we cause to other living beings can be taught – I can’t imagine my sister or I could have turned out any other way, and I know a lot of people who didn’t have the kind of family background we had growing up and still think the same way as we do.

My niece is about 10 years old; she loves animals and nature, knows a lot about wildlife conservation and environmental issues and does what she can on her level. But most of her friends and classmates (and their parents and teachers…) have basically no idea or just don’t think these things are important – same story again.  And I see that most of the kids would be inherently interested and would care but with the practically non-existent school education about these subjects and without proper behavior patterns from the parents it’s a lost case.

recently extinct animals 21st century

recently extinct animals 21st century

It has been my conviction for a long time that making environmental consciousness a fundamental part of education at school in every country would be crucial – but I‘m not in a position to achieve this. So – as I’m working partly in graphic design – I created my poster series about endangered and extinct animals. My main intention was to try to give a useful tool to help dedicated parents, teachers or communities who’d like to do something to get the kids’ attention and get them involved – and maybe, hopefully, their parents too (yes, I’m still naive…).

extinct bird species

extinct bird species

The poster series features 12 endangered and 12 already extinct animals. It’s not a random collection: I selected the species very thoughtfully to give the opportunity to cover as many aspects of environmental issues and wildlife conservation as possible. With the help of the posters the kids can learn about these animals and on their example it’s easy to talk about a wide range of topics: about the impacts of pollution and global warming; about how human activity like agriculture, deforestation, building dams and roads etc. changes the habitat of animals; about how overfishing and industrial fishing like netting kills marine wildlife; about poaching and holding wild animals captive for the sake of human entertainment or hobbies; about the vulnerability of islands to invasive species; about the utmost importance of clear waters; and about general things like how an ecosystem works, how can the tiniest element of a system be as significant as the biggest, and why it is so important to maintain the balance.

And, of course, about the possibilities of wildlife conservation and preserving or restoring the health of our environment: everyday acts like conscious buying choices, reducing plastic waste, recycling and sparing resources, using renewable energy; scientific methods from inventing non-polluting or biodegradable materials to resurrecting already extinct or critically endangered species by captive breeding programs and cloning.

animals endangered by illegal trade and poaching

animals endangered by illegal trade and poaching

The posters portray a wide range and diversity of species: mammals, birds, fishes, insects; amazing, cute, weird or cool animals; well known, emblematic and relatively unknown species; endemic and global species; species of islands and continents, oceans, seas and rivers, forests and grasslands, mountains and lowlands; recently and hundreds of years ago extinct animals from all around the planet.

The abbreviation and year under the name refers to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List category of the species: EX – extinct, CR – critically endangered, EN – endangered.

I made the posters available by setting up a store on RedBubble, with a small profit that goes entirely to the Sea Shepherd to support their efforts to save our oceans and marine wildlife. I’ve also made some design variations more suitable for t-shirts and other products: they are also available in the store.

animals hunted to extinction

animals hunted to extinction

Whether I believe my idea could work, and 12 images could really make any difference?
I don’t know – it’s just a tool, and without dedicated people who put their time, efforts and knowledge in using these posters they are just decoration. But even then, if a kid spends every day in a classroom with these posters on the wall it’s more likely s/he will pay attention and start to ask questions…I think at this point the only chance we have is to make sure that future generations are brought up with an attitude that makes sure they are precisely and painfully aware of the consequences of their everyday acts, that the human race is part of the intricate ecosystem of the Earth, and that each and every individual is personally responsible for the future our planet has – or doesn’t have.

endangered species with successful conservation efforts

endangered species with successful conservation efforts

 

I keep publishing informative posts about each species, please check the ‘Endagered and extinct animals’ category